July 31, 2007

Anti-americanism and ignorance

In our present era, a large number of public writers and commentators are making anti-Americanism a fashionable concept, as if it were something new, which evidently it is not. What strikes me, is the self-styled veracity with which critics of America champion the view. I am not just referring to, for example, the European intellectual club as lead by the French who have, in the past, made it akin to a religion of sorts, or, as University of Michigan philosopher A. Markovits argues, “something that binds together European intellectuals like a lingua franca".

Everything bad in the world is American or so they say. This resentment of U.S. Hegemon contains hostility toward its culture and a yearning to see it (America) fail. Perceived American vices include vulgarity, materialism, excessive confidence, aggression, gun happy, too religious and chauvinistic and big headed.

Critics shout their message from both the left and the right with the former often declaring the U.S. as vulgar, imperialist, war mongering and a capitalist marauder. American power is feared and distrusted and it is noteworthy that participants on both ends of the ideological pendulum are opposed to the spread of its culture – that is language, film, fast food, management theories and styles and industrial relations techniques. The antagonism emanates from many quarters includes Muslims, Orthodox Jews, cultural critics and anti modernizers. Indeed, are Americans currently the least loved people in the world?

Perplexing too how so many people of the street are swift to hate the American way, but run to embrace just about every modern offering that, in the first instance was invented and exported by Americans; a list of modern amenities too numerous too mention here.

Recently, whilst having lunch with a group of work mates in a new shopping mall food court, I suggested how I would not mind spending a few years living in the States. Some of the replies truly confounded, “why would you want to go there, look at what’s here”, said one animatedly, whilst pointing at the massive glass atrium that encased us. Added another and in the same context, "check out the conveniences” referring to the new wide supermarket check outs with there brightly lit LCD screens above the registers. The conviction with which these comments (and more) were made suggested that they believed such services and public amenities were not widely available to Americans.

I felt like shouting something like, “Hello, has it occurred to anyone that supermarkets and modern self serve shopping isles and the whole retail concept that we enjoy the world over was first enjoyed by Americans early last century and that shopping malls were a post World War II innovation again in the States”? Of course, I didn’t say any of this but did mention that "Safeway was in fact an American chain" and that brand names we know so well such as Dove, OMO, Colgate, Lux, Ponds, Rexona and Sunsilk (I actually ran through many more) were also American. I found it amazing that some were not were not sure whether to believe me. Perhaps America’s soft power exports such as film, language, music, computers and home office technology, advertising and all the elements of modern American culture should come with a removable tag reading “made in America” as a way of selling itself and perhaps more importantly, to educate.

As I assumed the role of observer, I noted as one tried to show off his new communication toy, whilst the others were busy discussing there favorite TV programs, shows like Ugly Betty, Boston Legal, Brothers and Sisters and CSI ... surprise surprise!

And my friends new toy? A Blackberry, of course…

Link: Brands in an age of Anti-Americanism

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10 comments:

Elaine said...

I got a chuckle from your friends comments and lack of knowledge concerning the everyday products they use and take for granted are in fact American. It does seem to be quite the fashion to hop on the band wagon of Anti-Americanism. What truly makes me sad and angry is when I hear it from fellow Americans!

Brooke said...

It may sound cliche, but I would invite any American on said bandwagon to go and live in Venezuela, or perhaps Pakistan for one to five years.

Odds are they won't be so quick to take me up on that offer...

WomanHonorThyself said...

wow great read my friend!..dont u love ingratitude!!

David Schantz said...

Ottavio,
Thank you for pointing out some of the modern conveniences we Yanks have shared with the rest of the world. It might help them to understand that most of us are not out to take over every thing we see. My Wife and I have been trying to buy a different home. One of the brookers we have been working with immigrated here from Australia a few years ago. He has found that life here is not much different from life back home.

You have an interesting site, I shall return.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

American Interests said...

Thanks all for visiting!!!!!

Elaine: Yes I have noticed that some of your fellow Americans can be very critical especially in the name of politics, it's self defeating and in any event, there's enough hatred toward the U.S. from abroad...

Brooke: cliché’s are good...

womanhthyself: ingratitude due to ignorance leaves little to be desired.

David Schantz: I would need an entire blog to write a complete list of what "Yanks" have shared with the modern world. God bless America..

WomanHonorThyself said...

thanks for stoppin by in today!..:)

Bar Kochba said...

Perceived American vices include vulgarity, materialism, excessive confidence, aggression, gun happy, too religious and chauvinistic and big headed.
Our snobbish European friends are no better.
Vulgarity: The cultured snobs over in Europe are rude to tourists and thumb their nose at foreigners.
Materialism: Ever seen Amsterdam's red light district? If that's not materialism... Don't forget European obsession with materialism makes them too busy to have children, leaving Europe's birthrate dangerously low.
Agressive: Europe's Left is so aggressively pacifistic (no contradiction) that they will stop at nothing to condemn the US and Israel.
Gun happy: Fine, but at least the US has much lower breaking and entering rates than the UK because of said gun happiness.
Too Religious: Which country is building a giant mosque to seat 70 000 people next to the Olympic stadium? The UK. Which country had a judge who ruled that wife beating is permitted because the Qur'an allows it? Germany. Plus, the average European is so militantly secular, it makes you wonder who the real fanatic is.
Chauvanistic: France's symbol is a phallic tower. Gaellic chauvanism is legendary.
Big-Headed: How many times do we have to endure European and leftist self-righteousnous?

G-d bless America.

American Interests said...

Bar Kochba: Thanks for visiting and your well thought commentary.

Quite conveniently when the cold war ended so did the requirement to seek security through the alliance with the U.S. So America's contribution for the protection of Europe from communist forces was seemingly forgotton rather quickly, as was the efforts of former U.S. administrations to re-build war torn Europe shortly after the second world war.

Anti Americanism flourished (particurlarly so, in France) and the left anti zionist movement has fed into this new crusade.

Thanks again. I have bookmarked your site "For Zion's Sake" and will visit soon...

John Kaiser said...

Maybe this is why we are such good friends with the Israelis. They have faced antisemitism for well over 2,000 years, and survived. Perhaps they could teach us some lessons on dealing with the anti-American vitriol spewers. People for whom there is nothing good that has or could come out of America. Their rants often remind me of the holocaust deniers who sometimes post on my blog's comment section about the evil Jews.

American Interests said...

JKaiser: "Anti-American vitriol spewers" are everywhere of late, and the rants to which you refer are but one reason why I launched this blog. There's either a lot of hypocrites out there or a great deal of ignorance or a mixture of both. Collectively they generate a plethora a anti americanism which is often also based on miinformation. Once again, another reason for my blog. I appreciate your visit and time taken to comment...